Glenn Christensen of 6586 Williamsburg Way celebrated his 90th birthday April 9 with family.
Christensen was born on April 17, 1926, in Racine.
He married Carole Hansen on Sept. 16, 1949, in Racine.
Christensen knew he wanted to fly when he was 6 years old. He attended ground school at the YMCA at the age of 14. Christensen learned to fly in 1943 and was half owner of a Welsh aircraft before he owned a bicycle or a car. He eventually got a bicycle to get to the airport.
Christensen enlisted in the Army Air Corps at the age of 17 as an aviation cadet. The war ended before he was able to complete his training. He returned home, attended flight school and received his commercial pilot’s license.
In 1949, Christensen became a Civil Air Patrol Squadron commander in Racine and built it from seven senior members and one cadet to 29 seniors and 101 cadets. By 1953, he was group commander for squadrons in Burlington, Walworth, Kenosha, Janesville and Racine.
Christensen built and supervised the Civil Defense Group to 480 volunteers and supervised the Defense Early Warning System. He then was promoted to major by Col. John Batten.
Christensen was in business as a crop duster from 1953 to 1956. He began his career in corporate aviation as co-pilot for J.I. Case Co. In 1961, he was hired as chief pilot for Bucyrus Erie Co. (now Caterpillar). Christensen helped build the aviation department to a fleet of four Lear jets. William “Bill” Lunger flew with him for 22 years and still remains his best friend.
A pioneer in corporate jet aviation, Christensen joined an elite group of Lear pilots who flew at an altitude of 51,000 feet. In 1987, he received an award from the National Aircraft Association for 7,872,000 accident-free flying miles. He was a tireless advocate of corporate jet aviation. For those contributions, he was inducted into the Southeastern Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame in 2004.
Christensen and his wife have two children: Sandra (Darrell) Wright and Chris (Gigi) of Racine. They have three grandchildren.
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